Saturday, February 09, 2008

Deaths and realities

Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - North Soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion near the Soldier’s vehicle while conducting operations in At Tamim Province Feb. 8." And they announced: "Four Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers were killed when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device while the Soldiers were conducting a combat patrol northwest of Baghdad Feb. 8" (both announcements carry a February 9th date). Between M-NF announcements and DoD naming the dead (often the dead never announced by M-NF), on the 9th day of the month the number of US service members killed in Iraq currently stands at 14. 3958 is ICCC's total since the start of the illegal war which is 42 away from the 4,000 mark.

In addition to questions of whether or not Moqtada al-Sadr's truce will be renewed, there's also Steve Lannen's "America's Sunni allies go on strike in Iraq's Diyala province" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Members of U.S.-allied citizen brigades, which are credited with helping to tamp down violence in many parts of Iraq, went on strike Friday in Diyala province, alleging that the provincial police chief there is running a death squad.
A leader of the group said that brigade members, most of them Sunni Muslims, wouldn't resume working with U.S. and Iraqi government forces until the Shiite police chief resigns or is indicted.
A curfew was imposed, and police throughout the province ended their patrols early to avoid clashes with the U.S.-funded concerned local citizens, or "popular committees" as they're known in Diyala, who staged demonstrations against the police chief. No casualties were reported.
The strike highlights the tenuous relationship between U.S.-allied Sunni-dominated citizen militias and the Shiite-dominated, U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces.

This is rewritten in parts. Wally and Cedric were having problems with their joint-post and wanted to wait. (It should be up now.) So Mike held this (rightly). Since I'm now back home, I'm redoing parts of this entry that was finished about fourteen hours ago (redoing it before it ever posted).

One thing that we can include now that wasn't available at 4:00 EST this morning is some of today's violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing left two "police commandos" wounded, another Baghdad roadside bombing (possibly targeting "the bridge of Beirut intersection") left one person wounded and another Baghdad roadside bombing left two Iraqis wounded. Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing that wounded four people.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 10 people shot dead in Diayla Province (following the strike noted earlier), an armed clash in Sulaimaniyah left 1 security guard dead and the Iraqi SWAT team killed Abu Omar al-Douri in a home invasion in Salahuddin.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Mamdan Abdu Al-Samad Abdu Allah was kidnapped in Basra yesterday. Yesterday's snapshot noted 4 Christian missionaries with the Church of Norway were kidnapped, clarifies they weren't kidnapped, they were arrested. They have now been released. No explanation is given why they were arrested in Basra.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdadd, 10 in Diyala Province and 5 outside of Kirkuk.

In Saturday's New York Times, only one article is about Iraq, Solomon Moore's "At Court-Martial, G.I. Sniper Tells of Ordering the Killing of an Unarmed Iraqi" which details what's come out during the court martial of Evan Vela. These include the admission that weapons are carried to plant on Iraqis who are killed -- as Michael A. Hensley testified, "It wasn't uncommon for us to have stuff like that out there" and it was carried around for "insurance." You learn that Mustafa Ghanni Nesir al-Janabi testified at the court-martial -- he's the son of Genei Nesir Khudair al-Janabi who was executed by the US military (while his hands were bound) and then a weapon (AK-47) was planted on the corpse and he was dubbed an 'insurgent.' The article maintains that that "fake explosives or other weaponary" was often left out in the open by the kill teams "to draw insurgents into the open, where American soldiers could kill them." The reality it's not just weapons that are being left laying around in order to shoot Iraqis for touching US property and had anyone bothered to tell the story of James Burmeister that would be public fact. (Christian Hill did in this country. He is the only reporter in this country to tell what Burmeister saw as part of the kill teams. No one else and certainly not Little Media.)

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;

The e-mail address for this site is

Grab bag

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are now largely running on their "electability," not ideology. The Wall Street Journal noted that issues have now "eroded" as central to either campaign, and that the horse race and popularity contest is in command. They seem happy about that. Wall Street Hedge Funders and financiers are helping to bankroll both campaigns. (Edward’s big donors have now embraced Obama.) Wall Street is not a target of either, except for funding.
Slogans, buzz words, stump speeches and message points substitute for any effort to educate the American people about what it will really take to make change, Obama says change will be "tough" but doesn't go into why or discuss all the institutional forces and power centers with a stake in the status quo.
If he loses, I fear, many of his new young voters will get disillusioned and drop out of politics in part because they may be naïve or unaware of what the real obstacles to change are. They are mesmerized by charismatic speechifying and political vote counts, not a knowledge of underlying economic realities that any President will confront. Who is in office is not necessarily who is in power!
Ultimately, if Clinton and Obama really want to make change, they need to spell out more what they are for, not just what they are against. They need to organize, not just proselytize. They are not just running against the Republicans, but are up against what best-selling author John Perkins a former "economic hit man," calls the "corporatocracy," the economic power nexus that calls the shots.

The above is from Danny Schechter's "What Is the 'Change We Can Believe In'?" (Common Dreams) and it was in the snapshot yesterday, as dictated but there was a problem with the link for either it or his own site and that's why the last section is smaller (one of the two links was not closed and it ran into the immediate next section, knocking out it and the next section and making the part right after in smaller type). That's why he's a tag at the end but not in the snapshot itself.

This wasn't the section that was excerpted in the snapshot (and he will be noted in Monday's snapshot) but it's four in the morning and I'm tired and I'm grabbing what I want. I disagree with the fear cited by Danny strongly. The column's not nonsense or trash or we wouldn't link and in the snapshot, we just quoted another section. That "fear" has been listed by many -- more often, used as a club. It's crap. And we're going to discuss why here because it's one of those topics that Jim asks to be held for The Third Estate Sunday Review but, during the long writing session, we never get around to it. So that's going to be the bulk of this entry while I try to wake up. (Thank you to Mike who will post both morning entries. When this one goes up, Wally and Cedric will be finishing their joint-post. The second entry will go up after they have posted their joint-entry.)

On Coming Around Again, Carly Simon sings a song (a rare one she didn't write) entitled "You Have to Hurt."

“I’m in love with him”, she said
With all the innocence of tender years
But somewhere down the road ahead
I could see the same eyes
Filled with bitter tearsI had the inclination
To tell her not to drop her guard
To tell her that life can be hard
But I didn’t have the heart
You have to hurt -- to understand
You have to get by the best you can
Until you hurt -- until you cry
You won't know about love
And the reason you’re alive
You have to hurt

It's a mature song, it's a mature approach.

The Cult of Bambi really hasn't demonstrated that it can vote in the first place. I am biting my tongue there (another feature Jim's got on hold for Third) but Ava and I have seen it on campuses we've visited and you saw some reality on ABC Tuesday night (which is what Ava and I plan to cover for Third tomorrow). The Cult of Bambi is blown up by the MSM (and Laura Flanders among others) but in the degree that it does exist, it exists to vote. He is, after all, running for elected offices. And they're not voting. What you've really got is a popularity trend on campus that allows many to say "Oh, I support Bambi." The same way they'd all claim to listen to a musical act (that was considered cool) or watch a TV show or whatever else. If you're not on campuses today, think back to when you were in college or high school and you'll know what I'm talking about. Think about a show (maybe a sports game aired on TV) and how the day after, everyone pretended they watched but, if you paid attention to the remarks, no, everyon didn't watch but everyone was trying to fit in.

Obama's a candidate not a t-shirt. If the craze isn't translating to votes, it's not a political craze because he exists to get votes.

It's never been a "movement" though a lot of out of touch people try to pimp that notion. Your first clue could have been Goodman interviewed students on two episodes of Democracy Now! and the students (one each) were supporting Ron Paul, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and a third (it may have been John Edwards) could explain why they were supporting their candidate. Then came the young woman for Bambi. She couldn't answer what positions, policies or proposals of Obama's she was supporting. Ron Paul's actually got a youth movement. It's not a myth, it's not a craze, he actually a youth movement on campus. Go around the country and you'll grasp that very quickly. And his group is turning out to vote. There's a difference between a movement and a craze.

Equally true for the alleged anti-war candidate (pimped hard by the likes of 'anti-war' 'leader' Tom Hayden), his group isn't made up of students who've worked to end the illegal war. If his craze is active, they're the ones who ignored Iraq to focus on Darfur.

But, go back to Carly's song quoted above, and you have what is so frightening about the lie (and it's a lie) about the "fear." I hope Danny will write about that one section at more length and I'm not trying to tear him apart over it, but, exploring the topic, he should grasp how that "fear" has been used before.

It's used all the time. He's encountered it before this election cycle many times. Most in the press have. You find a story that's breaking and relevant to our lives and the resistance you get is the fear of how it might depress, how it might lead to disillusionment. It's what gets stories killed all the time in the mainstream press -- that 'fear' of the impact.

Post-Watergate, it became the club to hit investigative journalism over the head with, that 'fear.' If ___ is reported, it might mean Americans feel even less engaged with the system. If ___ is reported, it might mean the skepticism of government would increase. It existed before Watergate as well and it existed during Watergate but there was also the fact that Watergate coverage made stars and made money. Which is why you get the cautionary note from a newspaper publisher about how maybe so many things don't need to be told.

For months, the likes of Laura Flanders have been working the 'fear' talking point. It's disgusting. People in college are not toddlers, they don't safety caps placed on their lives expereiences. They are adults living in the world and they, like everyone else, will have to face some realities. That's what we all do every damn day. The notion that we need to be worried what might happen to the (mythical) young supporters if their candidate doesn't win, is bulls--t.
That's all it is. It's not reality.

Reality is that "You Have to Hurt" (to understand, to get by the best you can). Life is full of disappointments and this nonsense ("fear") shouldn't be coming from journalists ever because this how-will-people-feel-about-the-government-then has been used too many damn times to cover up the truth. It goes against everything a working free press is supposed to stand for and it goes against how a democracy is supposed to work.

It is the lamest of excuses offered for Bambi's campaign and it is the most offensive. Let's say everyone hopped the Flanders train (which requires lesbian Flanders to shut up about the homophobia that Bambi's campaign has used -- we'll get back to that) and Bambi got the nomination out of 'fear' of what his young 'supporters' might live through if he didn't. What next?

It's very doubtful the GOP is going to enlist in that "Save The Youth!" campaign but say they did and Bambi got into the White House. Four years from now or eight years from now do we owe it to the same 'youth' not to tell truths, not to ask difficult questions? Or are they now "old" and we turn to the next youth group?

The 'fear' argument isn't that different from the one Katharein Graham made in a speech to the CIA in 1979, "There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows." In that absurd statement, you have a 'responsibility' to protect the people being floated. You have it in the 'fear' over what will happen to Bambi groupies should he not get the nomination as well.

I wasn't for Eugene McCarthy -- I didn't trust him anymore than I trust Bambi (and I think, if he doesn't get the election, will see not just the nods to the right-wing we see currently, but the embrace of the right from Bambi that McCarthy offered when he failed to get the 1968 nomination). But you had a real movement behind Gene, a very strong youth movement. (Aided by the fact that RFK was no longer in the election due to being assassinated.) (Gene's press makes him anti-war. He wasn't. Go back to his original speeches, including his opening speech announcing why he was running -- it was sop and not about really ending the illegal war or noting that it was illegal.) He didn't get the nomination and life as we know it didn't cease to exist.

(He did, of course, come out of the closet about what a right-winger he truly was. His shame didn't begin with endorsing Ronald Regan for president in 1980. Ironic that Bambi would praise Reagan until you grasp that he's not at all different from Gene.)

"Clean for Gene" -- remember that crowd? Quick to cut their hair and dress 'straight' to go out into the larger (non-campus) world and campaign for him. Whether you think they were sell-outs or not, they were putting it on the line for their candidate. If you lived through that period ask yourself where the Bambi groupies are -- and grasp that McCarthy was dead after the DNC convention -- all that activity for Gene took place prior to the convention, took place during the primaries. And don't bring up the ridiculous notion that Facebook is somehow the equivalent to what Gene supporters (not just the Clean For Gene) crowd was doing.

They're not even engaged in the process now and, out of 'fear,' some feel we have to hop on the board the Bambi train (that's not what Danny's doing in the article, he's not making that argument, he's noting the fear and I'm saying that 'fear' is offensive to democracy and to a free press and I have always felt that way). That's not a spit-on-students.

I wouldn't do that and I haven't done that. We've focused on the realities of student activism when MSM outlets and The Nation couldn't find any because they didn't want to, they preferred to issue their tired "The Youth Today, Oy Vey, They Just Don't Care" pices that exist in every decade and usually have little reality basis.

Students are voting. They are turning out. Some are voting for Ron Paul (a lot are voting for Ron Paul), some are voting for Clinton or Obama or McCain or Huckabee or Gravel or any candidate in the race. But the myth is that Bambi owns the youth and he doesn't. Not if 'ownership' translates into votes.

But if you accept that myth as fact (in which case, you obvioulsy haven't been to campuses across the country), that still doesn't justify the 'fear.' Were the myth true, it wouldn't change that life is full of disappointments (and joys) and we learn (at all ages) from them.

A lot of crap has been pushed through Congress under the guise of 'protecting the youth.' Now some are arguing (Danny's not arguing that in his column) that we need to protect them because if they don't get Bambi they might become disillusioned.

That's nonsense. Disappointment is a part of life. The idea that people need to be protected from it leads to some of the worst press censorship (whether it's a government scandal or how someone truly died -- heart attack, yes, but while they were having sex outside of marriage and with a prostitute). All college students today are not Bambi supporters, that is a big lie. All student voters especially are not Bambi supporters. (Bambi can't seem to turn out his alleged support on campuses, but we're not supposed to notice that. Again, reality broke in on ABC's primetime coverage of Super Duper Tuesday. It also appeared, suprisingly, in the New York Times this week.) But for those who buy into the myth and try to argue that we must protect (they like to use the term 'encourage') this, the question should be: For how long?

When they're in their late 20s or early thirties, are we still supposed to worry about what might happen to them if life doesn't work out quite the way they wanted?

Young adults are adults. They don't need to be coddled or patronized. (They don't want to be.) The democratic process is not about "Don't let people be disappointed!" In an open society, people are going to be disappointed all the time. That's reality.

I grew up in a press family and I heard all about this 'fear' as an excuse for killing a story. I've heard about it from friends in the press my entire life. (To give an example of it at the most ludicrous, a 2004 conversation with a music journalist over what she couldn't print, what had been killed, stands out among the most shocking because her piece was not going to have huge impact -- she was at one of the bottom five of the ten major daily papers, not Rolling Stone or a publication known for music journalism and it wasn't that big of detail to begin with but as she explained how furious she was -- rightly -- over her piece being killed out of 'fear' of its impact . . . Or we can drop back to an organized effort to kill a movie that wasn't 'dangerous' but killing it wasn't about the movie, it was about an actor in the film.) This 'fear' destroys democracy and it never protects anyone. It does damage free speech because it not only creates overt censorship being imposed from the top, it also creates self-censorship.

Laura Flanders has shamed herself. She's an out lesbian (how out she is to the MSM is in question) and she's pushed Bambi for some time now. She's refused to call out his use of homophobia in his campaign. She's stayed silent on that. She's far from the only one on the left or 'left' and if you've missed what that signals, it signals open season on the LGBT community because they're going to look awfully hypocritcal -- 'independent' media -- if and when a GOP candidate (or, in fact, the nominee) embraces homophobia as a campaign tactic and they call it out then. The reality is that they've sent -- through their silence -- the message that homophobia is allowed. I guess it was more important to not 'disappoint' the 'youth,' than to stand up for social justice and equality?

The 'fear' argument is offensive and should not go unchallenged. It's the same argument that leads to censorship. Instead of being challenged, people are running with it. For instance, The Impossible May Take A Little While But The Stupid Are With Us Always, wanted to make an argument for Bambi building on that and offered nothing on democracy or change but some form of "This is how we trap the rats in the maze for the rest of their life!" (Idiots should refrain from making claims about party i.d. because there has been a huge change in the last thirty years on this issue. He offered an argument built upon the 'science' and 'data' of the post-WWII period through the 1964 and, even sadder, didn't seem to grasp that's where his 'impressions' -- he had no data -- were coming from.)

This arrived late last night. NOW on PBS may have already aired in your area. If it has, video is online at the program's website:

This week's NOW on PBS:
A seasoned campaign manager looks at the political battles ahead, especially after Romney's pull-out. What are the candidates' next moves? Watch the show RIGHT NOW at:
Description:Super Tuesday -- and many top contenders' campaigns -- has come and gone, but what does it mean for the road ahead? NOW's David Brancaccio talks with Dan Schnur, John McCain's Director of Communications in 2000, to see how the McCain campaign plans to unite the Republican Party, and new imperatives for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What strategies will succeed, and what pitfalls await those with their eyes on the White House? Next on NOW.
ALSO NEW, exclusively on NOW Online:
Warning Bells for Election 2008 In an interview with NOW, election reform expert Wendy Weiser reveals why she's worried about the integrity of the voting process in 2008. She warns that if the Supreme Court upholds Indiana's restrictive voter ID law, "thousands" of prospective voters could be prevented from voting. Besides maintaining voter ID laws, says Weiser, the Court's ruling could clear the way for politicians and officials to "manipulate election rules and suppress votes." Finally, she reports on the voting snafus that have surfaced already in the 2008 primary season, disenfranchising voters in several states.
Read more at "Voter ID Debate":
Finally, visit our newly-launched Adventures in Democracy minisite. There you'll find answers to "burning questions" about American elections, a toolkit for going under the hood of American politics, and political cartoons visitors can personalize with their own captions:

From Margaret Kimberley's "John Conyers Must Decide" (Black Agenda Report):

Congressman John Conyers has served 21 terms in office and is now Chairman of the House Judiciary committee. He once promised to hold impeachment hearings against President Bush or Vice President Cheney, but now those words mean nothing. If he cared about the future of the country he would either fight for the Constitution as he once did, or make plans to retire. If he makes neither choice, he needs a hard fought primary race to convince him that his political time has passed.
Bush is using every moment of his lame duck year to destroy civil liberties at home and expand the American empire abroad. As usual Democrats act like needy supplicants, hoping they can run out the clock without confronting a president with a 31% approval rating.

John Conyers was a founding member of the Congress Black Caucus. He was a member of the Judiciary committee that held impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon in 1974. Those hearings were a great success, forcing Nixon to resign. The twin effect of impeachment and Ford's pardon of Nixon sent the Republican party into a tailspin. The Democrats won resoundingly that November and Jimmy Carter won the presidential election two years later.
That history is well worth remembering. If the Democrats were to act on impeachment in 2008, Bush would be stopped in his tracks. Any effort to find a pretext for war with Iran would be stopped. Signing statements giving Bush authority to break the law would come to an end. The Democratic presidential nominee would have a better chance to win and to govern with Democratic control over both houses of Congress.

Also, as Rebecca notes in "a revolution right about now," Reuters fixed their 'blindness' to the fact that Hillary Clinton was also a US senator.

Remember IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, February 08, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, Feburary 8, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, Andy Sullivan loves John McCain and lies for him, will al-Sadr's cease-fire/truce hold when they're praying in some regions for it to end, Americans say "Save the economy by pulling out of Iraq," and more.
Starting with war resistance, Krystalline Kraus (The Rabble) traces the historical support Canada has provided to war resisters:
According to Lee Zaslofsky, a key organizer for the War Resisters Support Campaign and a Vietnam resister himself, he believes that Canada has a certain historical legacy to live up to by accepting war resisters.       
It was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the Liberal Party who opened Canada's doors during the Vietnam war to thousands of Americans war resisters, who were often motivated by the same feeling of objection to an unjust and illegal war.    
"Of course, Canada's legacy extends back further to the [American] Civil War and before that when slaves came north via the underground railroad, and even before that with the United Empire Loyalists, so there is sort of a Canadian tradition of welcoming dissenters from the United States and this is another part of that," Zaslofsky explains.         
With the Canadian Supreme Court refusing to hear appeals on this issue in November, the country's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters may have.  You can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada.  Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'."  As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.
In the United States, a new poll may cause a stir.  Jeannine Aversa (AP) reports that Americans surveyed by AP and Ipsos feel "The way to get the country out of recession -- and most people think we're in one -- is to get the country out of Iraq" and "Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they'll spend the economy into recovery."  The number saying ending the illegal war would pull the United States out a recession was 43% and included respondent Hilda Sanchez who declares, "Let's stop paying for this war.  There are a lot of people who are struggling.  We can use the money to pay for medical care and help people who were put out of their homes."  [Marin of error on the poll was plus/minus 3/1%.]
In Iraq, a cease-fire/truce between the US military and Moqtada al-Sadr is close to expiring.  Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports that yesterday a raid conducted by US soldiers, with Iraqi support, was conducted in "the Shia distrcit of Sadr City" utilizing Humvees and helicopters to arrest 16 (one of which would die in 'custody') and doing so over the objections of local Iraqis such as Abu Sajjad who declares that the US military "detained people who are neutral and educated people.  They care only about religion.  They will never be witht he military wing."  al-Sadr has issued a statement for all followers to continue the truce/cease-fire at present.  Lebanon's The Daily Star notes a "report by the International Crisis Group think tank said the respite offered by the cease-fire was 'exceedingly frail' and that Sadrists -- many of whom complain they are targeted by security forces -- remain extremely powerful" and offers this description of the US military incursion into a civilian neighborhood yesterday: "Police and residents said that US soldiers in humvees, backed by helicopters, sealed off a block of the neighborhood and raided four house.  The front-door lock on one of the houses was shattered by gunfire, and 22-year-old Arkan Abid Ali was shot in the chest and wounded.  Diaa Shakir, 20, said he heard gunfire coming from inside houses US soldiers had entered, as he watched the operation from the window of his home nearby."  The paper also notes that the military assualt on a civilian area left two women injured as well as an elderly person.  Though the 16 arrested (that's counting the one who was reported to have died in US 'custody') have not been identified by name, the BBC runs with the US military command's boast that one of the 16 may be "a suspected leader of a Shia militia group allegedly backed by Iran." AP notes the toll from the assualt as 1 Iraqi who died in US custody, 1 Iraqi woman shot (but "treated and released"), "two women and an elderly man also had been wounded and tkane to a hospital, where one of them had died."  Lauren Frayer (AP) explains that in Kufa today, prayers included condemning "the recent arrests and accused Iraqi officials of sectarian bias" quoting Sheik Abdul Hadi al-Karbalaei who believes the truce/cease-fire is leaving them vulnerable, "For the past six months there have been non-stop detentions of al-Sadr followers, day and night."  Those who would like or require audio can refer to Jim Lehrer's News Summary (PBS) from The NewsHour which briefly includes the incident and also notes:
In Iraq, the US military announced an American soldier died Wednesday in a roadside bombing.  There have been eight U.S. deaths so far this month.  More than 3,950 Americans have died in Iraq since the war began.
In the New York Times today, Alissa J. Rubin leaves out the total but makes a similar claim re: 1 death announced.  Repeating from yesterday's snapshot:
Today the US military announced [PDF format warning]: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed when the Soldier's vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in western Baghdad Feb. 6."  As noted this morning: "The ICCC total since the start of the illegal war for US service members killed while serving in Iraq is 3950 with 6 for the month. 50 away from the 4,000 mark but since Ted Koppel stepped down from Nightline does the media -- big or small -- even bother to let those numbers register?"  The numbers have gone up -- due to DoD namings, not M-NF announcements. Currently the total is 3952 since the start of the illegal war and 8 for the month thus far.  On the 7th day of the month, the number of US service members who have died in the illegal war this month is 8. 
The US military wasn't eager for the deaths to be widely noted (AEB the fact that M-NF didn't make the announcements) but they're eager for everyone to know something else.  Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) notes the US military is stating that al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is instructing its followers to 'play nice' out of concern that potential Sunni allies might be turned off and Paley speaks with a man named Riyadh al-Ogaidi whom is identified by the paper as a senior leader of the group who claims, "The Americans have not defeated us, but the turnaround of the Sunnis against us had made us lose a lot and suffer very painfully" and also asserts that the Iraqi membership accounted for 12,000 last year but has fallen "to about 3,500 today."
In political news, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that Thursday Iraq's "Parliament again deferred a vote on the budget of Thursday as political blocs argued about how to divide financing among the provinces, but legislators did make headway toward approving a law that would outline provincial powers. . . . The debate on Iraq's 2008 budget, which was supposed to have been resolved with a vote in December, has revolved around how much of the money to allocate to the Kurds and whether the central government will pay the costs of the pesh merga soldiers, the Kurdish militia.  Lawmakers said Thursday that the Planning Ministry had collected date showing that Kurdistan had 14 percent to 15 percent of Iraq's population, and that it should get that share of the nonfederal part of the budget."  Along with deferring a vote -- on the 2008 budget, the 2008 budget -- they also had a walk out.  Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times via San Francisco Chronicle) reports the walk out took place "to protest parts of a draft law that would lay out rules for provincial elections later this year, marking another potential setback for U.S.-backed proposals to ease Iraq's sectarian rifts.  The walkout postponed a vote on the measure to redistribute power in Iraq."
"The delay in the budget is harming everyone," stated Adel Abdel-Mehdi, Iraq's Shi'ite vice president according to Lebanon's The Daily Star which also notes that legislation put on hold also included a bill "that would release thousands of mainly Sunni Arabs from Iraqi jails . . . The law that would free prisoners who have not been charged with or convicted of major crimes, like murder or treason, is also seen as a step toward reconciliation because most of the 23,000 people held in Iraqi jails are Sunni Arabs" and this is among the legislative demands that the Sunni Accordance Front made before walking out of  puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet.
In some of today's reported violence . . .  
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack.  Reuters notes that yesterday people in police uniforms conducted a home invasion in Baquba, shot dead 5 people and then exploded the home and today a Hawija car bombing injured two police officers.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person and 1 police officer in Anbar Province following a clash with unknown assailants and, last night in Baghdad, the "Head of Sahwa," was shot dead in Baghdad (two bodyguards of the 'Awakening' Council chiefton were also injured). Reuters notes a college student was shot dead in Mosul.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 Christian missionaries ("with the Norwegian Churches Organization") were kidnapped last night in Basra.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US State Department issued "Background Notes: Iraq" which contained many amusing 'interpretations' but we'll note this section:
The focus of United States policy in Iraq remains on helping the Iraqi people build a constitutional, representative government that respects the rights of all Iraqis and has security forces capable of maintaining order and preventing the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists and foreign fighters. The ultimate goal is an Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, with institutions capable of providing just governance and security for all Iraqis and is an ally in the war against terrorism. U.S. forces remain in Iraq (under a UN Security Council mandate) as part of the Multi-National Force-Iraq to assist the Government of Iraq in training its security forces, as well as to work in partnership with the Government of Iraq to combat forces that seek to derail Iraq's progression toward full democracy. The U.S. Government is carrying out a multibillion-dollar program to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq.
"Under a UN Security Council mandate" is a good time to again note the treaty that the Bully Boy is attempting to prepare with Nouri al-Maliki -- without US Congressional consent (a violation of the US Constitution) or the Iraqi Parliament's consent (ditto).  As noted in Wednesday's snapshot, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Stafff Michael G. Mullen went before the US Senate's Armed Service Committee on Wednesday to beg for even more money and claimed that there was no interest in the permanent bases being established in Iraq or that the treaty (neither used that term) didn't call for them.  Yesterday, Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) covered the Wednesday hearing as well as the Wednesday House Armed Service Committee hearing, noting that "Gates denied Wednesday that the Bush administration was seeking a treaty with Iraq that would require long-term secuirty commitments forcing future U.S. presidents to continue sending troops.  Instead, Gates told lawmakers, a new agreement with Baghdad would give the U.S. military continuing legal authority to operate in Iraq, much like the current United Nations resolutions, which expire at the end of the year."  Why not simply renew the resolution isn't dealt with.  At the end of 2006, al-Maliki by-passed the Parliament and the Iraqi Constitution by renewing it all on his own.  Though the Constitution makes clear he does not have the power to do that, the Parliament passed legislation which they hoped would prevent that from taking place agian.  Instead, al-Maliki went around them again.  It needs to be noted that the United Nations was aware of that and should have rejected the renewal (which would legally mean US forces could not be in Iraq) .  Because Parliament is even angrier at al-Maliki this time and because Bully Boy's reign at the White House will come to a close next January, the two are cooking up a scheme that by-passes the United Nations, both countries' Constitutions and both countries' legislative bodies.  As Spiegel notes, "Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has made the proposed agreement an issue in her presidential campaign, accusing the administration of seeking to tie the hands of the next president by committing to Iraq's protection with U.S. forces"  and that to Gates denial that this is a "treaty," "Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, has countered that the Iraqi foreign minister has termed the agreement a treaty and that, under the U.S. Constitution, Congress is required to ratify any treaty that provides such security guarantees."  Charlie Savage (Boston Globe) interpreted the Senate Committee hearing to mean that the White House "is backing off its unprecedented plans to commit the US military to defending Iraq's security for years to come without submitting the agreement to a vote in Congress" citing Gates' testimony after Gates first attempted to debate what qualified for a treaty.
Staying with the US, Andy Sullivan (Reuters) reports that US Senator John McCain ("his victory as Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency virtually assured"????) has "turned his sights on his Democratic challengers" today claiming that "they were weak on national security and their Iraq stance would hand al Qaeda a victory."  Senator Insane is a little slow on the draw -- possibly due to age? -- and Sullivan misses a lot himself.  Sullivan goes on to quote a statement by US Senator Barack Obama (singing the same song he always sings and has it gotten old: "On the most important foreign policy decision in perhaps a generation, I strongly believe John McCain got it wrong") but seems to miss Hillary Clinton.
Sullivan forgets in his ENTIRE article is a sitting US senator and not just "former first lady" and a presidential contender.  It's cute the way he also refuses to quote Clinton's statements.  But Sullivan IS WRONG.  Bambi may or may not have 'fired back' today.  Hillary Clinton raised the issue yesterday. 
Get it straight, McCain didn't lay down a 'marker' -- a mythical narrative to paint him as a 'leader.'  Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post), Julie Bosman (New York Times) and, most important to this community, our own Kat noted that Hillary laid down the marker yesterday declaring, "I have the greatest respect for my friend and my colleague Senator McCain. But I believe that he offers more of the same, more of the same economic policies, more of the same military policies in Iraq."  Reuters needs to figure out (A) how Sullivan is so grossly uninformed that he's not aware of that and today paints Hillary as responding to McCain's 'leadership' and how Sullivan manages to credit Barack Obama as a US Senator when he's only been that since Jan. 2005 but Hillary Clinton, a US Senator since Jan. 2001, is just "former first lady." Reuters really needs to figure that out -- especially since the press has a long history of bending over backwards in favor of Senator Crazy, the Showboat Express.  Kat's finishing her explanation tonight (on the "She's boxed someone in" via the statemtns) tonight, just FYI.  We (KatAva and myself) heard that (Hillary's statement) on NPR yesterday evening but I'm not seeing any article of it online (and it may have been local news and not the national news feed).  Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) takes a look at McCain's public statements and winds down noting, "Now he espouses the belief that the U.S. can stabilize regions -- with enough troops.  The lesson of Vietnam and Iraq, he said in a May 2007 speech, is that 'we must never again launch a military operation with too few troops to complete the mission and build a secure, stable and democratic peace.  When we fight a war, we must fight to win'."  That is a revisionary take on Vietnam.  And it's one that avoids issues such as legalities and treaties.  Senator Crazy, despite Andy Sullivan's mad crush from him, is not yet the GOP presidential candidate and may not yet become it.  Again, Reuters needs to take a serious look at how that nonsense ran to begin with.
Tonight on Bill Moyers Journalthe program looks at viewers recommendations for what book the next president of the United States should take to the White House.  Among the books noted thus far by viewers at the show's blog are Anthony Arnove's IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal and Naomi Klein's  The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism.
Lastly.  In DC today, at the US State Dept, this question was asked, "I wondered if you wanted to comment on a memo that was sent by a former contractor at the U.S. Embassy, Manuel Miranda, to Ambassador Crocker at the U.S. -- a former contractor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. And he, in this memo, complains that the Foreign Service is not competent to do the job that they have undertaken in Iraq. He talks a lot about how Foreign Service officers do not have enough management experience so that they're not equipped to management programs, hundreds of millions of funds and the capital assets needed to help the Government of Iraq to stand up. So do you have any comment on that?"
The State Dept's deputy spokesperson Tom Casey responded by first attempting to make a joke of it ("Yeah, I guess he needs to tell us how he really feels") and then declaring, "Look, Mr. Miranda, was, as you note, a 3161 -- that's a contracting employee -- in Iraq, I guess, for about -- I guess for about a year. Obviously, he's expressing his own views and he's entitled to his opinions.  What I can tell you is that you've heard from the President, Secretary Rice and many others about the job that Ryan Crocker is doing as the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad. We think he and his team are doing a tremendous job" blah, blah, blah.

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Other Items

Yesterday The Whig Standard editorialized in support of war resisters in Canada. Today they have two letters from know-nothings who think they know-it-all. We'll deal with one of them just to see if you can catch how wrong the following is. From Mary MacDonald from Kingston:

The Whig-Standard compares Wiley and other deserters to the draft dodgers who came to Canada during the Vietnam War. The situation is a bit different. First, if one was drafted during the Vietnam War era, one had no choice but to enter the military and very possibly would be sent to Vietnam. Some draftees chose to come to Canada instead.
The military draft has been gone for a long time, so it's certain that Wiley joined the military of his own accord. Now he wants to be called a war resister, and he and his wife want to stay in Canada. As a man of 35, Wiley isn't some fresh-faced high school kid who was duped into signing up. He suggests in the Whig's story that the only choice open to him was to hightail it to Canada or wait until he retired from the military, which was a long way off. I didn't realize that you signed up for life.

Did everyone catch it? The sixties 'boys' have so distorted the draft over the course of the current illegal war that they've created the above disinformation. Canada, during Vietnam, did not just welcome those that were termed "draft dodgers," they also welcomed deserters. With deserters they didn't require that you swear you were drafted before attempting to be allowed resident status in Canada. The issue was the illegal war. If you were resisting it, you were a war resister. In terms of the ones who made Canada their home well after Jimmy Carter's limited amensty (far more expansive than the laughable thing offered by Gerald Ford -- who managed to give Richard Nixon a full pardon), most estimates have more deserters staying in Canada. That's because Carter's amnesty was for draft dodgers only, not for deserters.

From yesterday's Iraq snapshot:

UK MTV News reports, "Angelina Jolie has made a surprise visit to Iraq in her role as a UN goodwill ambassador. The gorgeous actress touched down in the Baghdad today to raise awareness of the 2 million refugees displaced in the war-torn Middle Eastern country." Video of Jolie being interviewed by Arwa Damon (CNN) here and transcript of the interview here. Jolie explains, "Well I came to the region about 6 months ago, I first went to Syria because I work with U.N.H.C.R. and there are 1.5 million refugees in Syria alone from Iraq and while I was there, I went inside and met with some internally displaced people. And this trip is to get a better picture of the internally displaced people and to discuss with the local government, with our government, with the NGOs and with local people, the situation and to try to understand what is happening, because there are over 2 million internally displaced people and there doesn't seem to be a real coherent plan to help them and there's lots of good will and lot's of discussion -- but there seem to be a lot of uh -- just a lot of talk at the moment and a lot of pieces need to be put together."

Leila Fadel (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) isn't happy with Angelina Jolie's visit to Iraq. Here's an excerpt:

Well she's back. The Hollywood bombshell returned to Baghdad to "bring awareness" to the refugee and internally displaced people crisis in Iraq.
[. . .]
There is no real plan to resettle these people if and when they return. Squatters have taken over many displaced families' homes. In many cases militias are now deciding who can and who can't return to neighborhoods including the praised awakening councils, who are largely credited with helping reduce violence in parts of Iraq. The councils or Concerned Local Citizens are U.S. contracted mostly Sunni groups paid to protect their neighborhoods. Many of the members are former insurgents.
Here's what Jolie told CNN about the situation:
"There's lots of goodwill and lots of discussion, but there seems to be just a lot of talk at the moment," Jolie said. "What happens in Iraq and how Iraq settles in the years to come is going to effect the entire Middle East, and a big part of what it's going to effect, how it settles, is how these people are returned and settled into their homes and their community and brought back together and whether they can live together and what their communities look like."
Well there you go Angelina Jolie said it. Iraq is very important to the future of the Middle East, people need to stop talking and start fixing. Here's a link to the CNN
transcript of the Jolie interview in Baghdad.

Jolie's a goodwill ambassador for the UN. She's not an independent critic. Like Audrey Hepburn before her, she has to couch her statements. No, she did not call out the US government and it would have been great if she had. But that's not what her role is. If someone's unhappy with the UN -- and they should be -- direct the criticism at the Secretary General where it belongs.

If they're unhappy with the continued do-nothing approach of the US to Iraqi refugees, direct the criticism at a media that can't be bothered with discussing what's going on. Jolie's trip has already resulted in more attention to the situation from the MSM than the 'independent' media in this country has given it in the last four months.

That's not me rushing to Jolie's rescue. That is noting that she has a clearly defined role as a goodwill ambassador. When that's over, if she's still making these type of statements, call her out by all means. But at present, she's shown more strength than the current Secretary General of the United Nations -- not surprising when you consider the US wanted Kofi out and backed Ban Ki-moon like crazy.

Angelina Jolie drew attention to a crisis. And she didn't do it by grand standing like Patrick Leahy in the Senate where Leahy sounds like an audio version of the Times of London any time he speaks on the floor about Iraqi refugees. If you've missed those pathetic performances, Leahy chatters on about Vietnam and starts whining about the US collaborators. Leahy appears completely unaware that over half the Iraqi refugees -- displaced internally and externally -- are children. He appears completely unaware how the young Iraqi population is. He only wants to show boat about how 'they helped us and I will not have this be Vietnam!' Blah-blah-blah.

Want to hold someone accountable, hold the losers like Leahy accountable. Jolie's an actress, she doesn't have to do the UN work and there's no 'up' in it for her. Already a New York Times' Docker Boy has smeared her for her efforts. She's a goodwill ambassador.

There are real problems. Angelina Jolie's attempts to raise awareness on Iraqi refugees isn't one of them. Take the so-called "war and peace report" -- has Democracy Now! mentioned the Iraqi refugee crisis this week? No.

Here's a gossip column in the Miami Herald that mentions Jolie's visit. Here it is in India's The Economic Times. Here's AP at MSNBC. Here's the British tabloid Hello! Here's a Seattle Post-Intelligencer gossip column. Here's Australia's Herald Sun. Here's AP in the Toronoto Star. Here's E! (gossip channel). Here's Reuters. Are you seeing the pattern? Jolie garnered coverage and that was the purpose of the visit and the purpose of a goodwill ambassador. How the press chooses to utilize the 'heat' from such a visit falls back on them. Editors want a 'new angle' every day. Jolie provided them with one.

Here's Sami Moubayed in the Asia Times:

One thing is clear: she is unimpressed by how both Iraqi authorities and US troops are dealing with the refugee crisis in Iraq and she is equally unimpressed at how they were dealing with the humanitarian problem as a whole in Iraq.
Twenty-four hours prior to Jolie's visit, hundreds of Iraqi actors and actresses had demonstrated in Baghdad, chanting against the prime minister, demanding better living and work conditions. Their demonstration - the first of its kind - was staged in front of the Iraqi National Theater (a national cultural landmark) in Baghdad. Hussein Basri, the president of the Artists' Syndicate, complained that "actors and actresses suffer from government negligence".
Actresses in particular are treated harshly by the increasingly religious society that surrounds them, with clerics condemning actresses as "immoral". Basri added that "the Iraqi theater has lost some of its finest performers due to immigration, or unemployment". The monthly salary of an actor or actress is comical, ranging from 100,000 dinars (US$67) to a maximum of 300,000 dinars.

So there are ways to cover Jolie's visit and really explore. If reporters didn't do that, it falls back on them, not Jolie who stuck to the Iraqi refugee issue the entire time and did not let CNN distract her from it.

Not all of the press could be considered worthwhile. Jess Snow (National Ledger) has nothing to do but whine that Jolie didn't say whether or not she was pregnant. Snow insists Jolie "needs to come clean" -- about pregnancy. Snow mentions Baghdad in one sentence and never deals with the Iraqi refugee issue. Now that's the sort of f-ed up world we live in, where trash wastes everyone's time. And Jolie knows they're out there. This isn't a 'glamor post' for her.

In other Iraq news . . .

Here's LA Times via Kansas City Star (Tina Susman is the uncredited reporter):

Meanwhile, dozens of Iraqi legislators walked out of parliament Thursday to protest parts of a draft law that would lay out rules for provincial elections later this year, marking another potential setback for U.S.-backed proposals to ease Iraq’s sectarian rifts.

Here's another version of Susman's report via the San Francisco Chronicle:

Also Thursday, dozens of Iraqi legislators walked out of parliament to protest parts of a draft law that would lay out rules for provincial elections later this year, marking another potential setback for U.S.-backed proposals to ease Iraq's sectarian rifts.
The walkout postponed a vote on the measure to redistribute power in Iraq.
The last time Iraqis voted for local officials was January 2005, when nationwide elections ushered in representational government across Iraq for the first time in modern history.
But many Sunni Arabs boycotted the polls, giving Iraq's majority Shiites and minority Kurds a much bigger share of power. The United States hopes the new elections will empower the Sunni minority and blunt support for the insurgency.
The draft law, if approved, would set an Oct. 1 date for provincial elections, according to a copy obtained by the Associated Press. It is among 18 U.S.-endorsed benchmarks seeking to promote reconciliation among Iraq's main groups.

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Kill teams and no 2008 budget still

An Army sniper went on trial Friday on charges of killing an Iraqi civilian and planting an AK-47 on his body to make him look like an insurgent.
Two other soldiers have faced similar charges in the same killing and two others. Those men were acquitted of the murder charges but were convicted of planting evidence on the bodies of the dead Iraqis.
Sgt. Evan Vela of St. Anthony, Idaho, faced a court-martial on one count of premeditated murder, making a false official statement and of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.
Military prosecutors say the killings occurred on April 14, April 27 and May 11 near Iskandariyah, a mostly Sunni Arab city 30 miles south of Baghdad.
Vela, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley, of Candler, N.C., and Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval, Jr., of Laredo, Texas, were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Hensley and Sandoval have since had their ranks reduced as part of their sentences.

That's from Bradley Brooks' "Iraq: Soldier's Murder Trial Opens" (AP) and Brooks goes on to note the orders to leave items out as bait and then to shoot-to-kill when US property was stumbled upon and touched. The "kill teams."

In the New York Times this morning, Alissa J. Rubin's "Iraqi Parliament Debates Split of Power and Money" is a grab bag that has to cram in the violence and assorted other topics into one story (there should have been at least two different articles covering these topics) and we'll focus on this regarding the 2008 budget:

The Iraqi Parliament again deferred a vote on the budget on Thursday as political blocs argued about how to divide financing among the provinces, but legislators did make headway toward approving a law that would outline provincial powers.
[. . .]
The debate on Iraq's 2008 budget, which was supposed to have been resolved with a vote in December, has revolved around how much of the money to allocate to the Kurds and whether the central government will pay the costs of the pesh merga soldiers, the Kurdish militia.
Lawmakers said Thursday that the Planning Ministry had collected data showing that Kurdistan had 14 percent to 15 percent of Iraq's population, and that it should get that share of the nonfederal part of the budget. However, in the last few years the Kurdish provinces have received 17 percent, a level the Kurds want to maintain.

Rubin notes one death of a US service member announced yesterday but the reality is that M-NF and DoD combined announced four deaths. DoD announces the names. M-NF is supposed to announce the deaths. Technically she might be right; however, yesterday M-NF issued press releases from the DoD (naming the dead M-NF 'forgot' to announce).

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

I Hate The War

What's more pathetic? Deluding one's self that Bambi's against the illegal war? Or having endorsed him and then showing up to say "We need to force the issue of the war with both candidates?"

They're both equally pathetic positions. And the left isn't about electing candidates. Read Elaine's post from yesterday and enjoy. It's dead on. And I'm biting my tongue to avoid adding my two cents (including, as Elaine noted Tuesday, about the poll).

What's going on?

A number of things are going on.

In terms of our 'anti-war' 'leaders,' this isn't about ending the Iraq War, this is about trying to set their end up. They aren't leaders and no one listens to them. But word drifts slowly to the mainstream. And so they rush to 'turn out' a 'constituency' that will 'prove' they are 'power brokers.'

I haven't endorsed a presidential candidate and still plan not to. There are two main reasons for that position (announced here in 2004 and repeatedly noted ever since).

1) We have a diverse left community. Endorsing a Democrat or a Green isn't what The Common Ills is about. We're not trying to be 'power brokers' and we're too diverse for an endorsement. (And it would be pompous of me -- one member of the community -- to try to speak for the entire community.) It would hurt feelings and create a division. It's not worth it.

2) 2004.

As Naomi Klein rightly noted, the peace movement gave John Kerry the gift of impunity. They went into hiding. They refused to call him out. They refused to challenge him. We were all supposed to be 'good little soldiers' and fall in line without questioning.

Maybe that's why independent media in this country can't support war resisters? They don't just fall in line, they think for themselves.

As a favor to a friend who had already booked campus appearances in Feb. 2003 when another, larger opportunity to speak out (bigger campuses) popped up, I agreed to fill in. March 2003, after the illegal war started was the most depressing for students who had been told if they just turned out for the big protest in February, the Iraq War would never start. They were hyped and they were lied to and now they were depressed. It did a lot of damage.

I've tried very hard not to engage in that on campus or here. After the 2004 elections, where everyone shut up to get Kerry elected and he didn't end up in the White House, the peace movement had to come out of hibernation. Not only did it have to come back to life, it had to struggle against 'friends' who were arguing that the illegal war really didn't matter. Like Bully Boy, they apparently thought the election was a 'mandate' on the Iraq War. How could it have been? The two major parties offered candidates for the illegal war.

Instead of dealing with the illegal war, many wanted to pontificate on the 'value voters' -- a myth created by Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder on the front page of the New York Times -- the paper's own polling that the story was loosely based on didn't back up the claims put foward but why go to the trouble to read the polling when you can gas bag? (We covered this four times the day the paper front paged those lies. If your late to the party, too bad. Find the entries or find the poll. You really only need to look at the same-sex questions to see that they fudged the polling by combining two sort-of similar categories that fit their premise and ignoring two categories that didn't.)

The peace movement would have sprung back to life regardless because the illegal war was dragging on but Cindy Sheehan is the spark that reignited. And if you doubt that, read some of our 'strong' voices today -- only read them back then -- when they were saying Cindy wasn't for ending the illegal war and other lies that were meant to make her 'palitable.' Yes, being opposed to the illegal war that cost her son his life was considered 'controversial' in the summer of 2005 by the tut-tuting class.

November 2004 through August 2005. It's actually over eight months. The peace movement can't afford to take eight months to pull their act together after the November 2008 elections.

People are going to vote (or not vote) for whomever they want and it's their business. But 'independent' media can't allow that. They try to game the system with non-stop attacks on Hillary and delusions and fantasies about Bambi.

Now some of them, after launching one hateful commentary after another on Hillary, grasp that she may win. When ___ is worried enough to argue that we need to press both of them (after ___ has already endorsed Bambi) and hold their feet to the fire, you better believe Hillary stands a real chance of winning because ___ knows a little bit about winning and a hell of a lot about losing. He's in a panic and trying to restructure himself, reinvent himself, before our very eyes because Hillary may win and where does that leave him!

See, he's not a leader for the peace movement. He's not interested in that. He's interested in Big Media seeing him as such. He's interested in the Democratic Party seeing him as such. He's interested in setting his own end up (a pattern throughout his life, but I'll bite my tongue).

There are websites/blogs that do endorsements (group blogs or solo blogs) and that's their business. We're not talking about them. We're talking about Little Media defined as print (with websites as well, but print magazines) and broadcast.

And what are they talking about?

Are they coming to the aid of war resisters in Canada? Are they sounding alarms on Iraq's refugee crisis? Are they finding ways to write about the illegal war?


The Nation dropped their "Iraq" folder on their website. A good thing because they have so little to offer. The new issue they just put to bed appears to be yet another issue about the presidential elections. In other words, they've basically rewritten the same issue the weekly has provided you with since week after week since 2007. (Actually since the end of 2006.) The most important thing in the world for Katrina vanden Heuvel to blog about was what Howard Dean should do about the two major candidates still in the Democratic race. Not Iraq. And certainly never war resisters.

Ross Spears is class of 2007. Class of 2007 war resisters got nothing from independent media with the exception of In These Times. A large number of service members went public and where was independent media?

Day after day, week after week, they're somewhere else. Usually on the horse race.

When it is time to 'talk' about Iraq, they go back to 2003. They really have damn little to offer since then. So Elizabeth DiNvoella asks Amy Goodman (The Progressive, February 2008), "What do you think was the mainstream media's biggest failing regarding the Iraq War?" Good golly, we're playing nostalgia trips in 2008? The illegal war's not even over and we're asking what "was" the failure?

Goodman declares later in the interview when asked what the pressing issue she sees when she's around the country:

War is the defining issue. We cannot take the focus off of that because we are determing who lives and who dies.
In Iraq, the population is just decimated, displaced, killed. We have destroyed a civilization. It's horrifying. And as long as that is going on I think it is our reponsibilty to show that. Then people can make up their own minds. But as long as it falls off the front pages of the newspapers, people can think, "Well it must not be that bad." It's our job to make sure it's front and center.

That is your job, Amy Goodman. Here's a little performance review for you, from the start of last month, on your daily-Monday through Friday show, you devoted no segment to Iraq until January 25th except for your "we only have one minute!" 'interview' with an activist who was protesting Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and maybe John Edwards as well (he was still in the race at the time). We only have one minute!

Front and center? January 25th is the first damn day of the month you can devote a segment to it and that's front and center? How many of the class of 2007 war resisters did Goodman bring onto the program last year? None. Not Ross Spears, not Kimberly Rivera, not Eli Israel, not James Burmeister, not . . . No one. And yet she says in The Progressive that one of the focuses of her upcoming book (written with her brother) will be "dissident soldiers and officers who say no." Apparently it's time to nostalgia trip again.

Let's just focus on Eli Israel for a moment -- goodness knows independent media didn't. Eli Israel was serving in Iraq. He made clear one day that he was against the illegal war. He was very worried about what the response would be from the command (for good reason). Blogs and websites (not associated with magazines) got the word out on him. Independent media didn't do a damn thing to help. A soldier serving in Iraq, resisting publicly while serving in Iraq and not a peep from independent media. He gets his discharge, comes back to the US and is speaking out. But independent media can't cover him, can't even mention his name.

Eli Israel publicly resisted the illegal war while serving in it in Iraq. He needed support, he needed independent media to amplify his case. They didn't do a damn thing. They didn't a damn thing after he got back.

It's like Sarah Olson. A reporter who is being asked to testify in Ehren Watada's court-martial (Feb. 2007). She wants the whole world to stop for her. Watada's facing years in prison if convicted. Olson's facing a few weeks or months if she refuses. Somehow, she's more important.
If she refuses she'll be sent to jail (not prison). But she's not refusing. She's not doing a damn thing. She's whining to everyone who will listen (and plenty did) that it's not fair that she's being asked to testify and people should stand up for her even though she won't take a stand herself and say, "I won't testify." Ehren Watada did not say, "They want me to go to Iraq and that's not fair! Stand up for me! I can't tell you whether I'll go or not but stand up for me!"

People who had never written one damn word about Watada started writing columns for Olson. Often, when they included Watada as a side note, they got him wrong. He hadn't deserted (as one 'name' claimed). He was still reporting to the base every day. But they weren't even interested enough in the stand he was taking and the sacrifice he was making to get the facts right. They were more interested in saying, "Don't you force Sarah to make a decision! It's not fair that Sarah has to make a decision!"

Now any grown up with a little perspective would easily grasp that Olson's potential punishment was not the end of the world, was not the most pressing issue of Watada's court-martial. Any grown up would have grasped that when you're writing about two people, you emphasize the person who's taken a stand. Not the pathetic person begging you to help her not take a stand.

But that's how it's been over and over. Anything can steal attention from a war resister -- even a reporter covering a war resister.

But it's not just war resisters. Abeer was gang-raped by US soldiers. She was gang-raped by them while they murdered her parents and five-year-old sister. She was 14-year-old. They killed her after they finished the gang-rape. They tried to set her body on fire to destroy the evidence. 'Insurgents' were blamed for the crimes. When the truth came out, where was independent media? When the August 2006 Article 32 hearing took place, where was independent media? When soldiers entered guilty pleas at their court-martials last year, where was independent media?

Steven D. Green maintains his innocence. He'll be tried in a federal court. Maybe they were saving their 'strength' for that April trial?

In 2004, an effort to stop Ralph Nader for running was launched. "Ralph, Don't Run!" seems to have allowed a lot of 'independent' types to fancy themselves as power brokers. They didn't stop Ralph from running and even all lining up single-file behind John Kerry didn't get him into the White House. (I supported Kerry, for those late to the party. March 2003 was when I made a choice. I donated to the campaign. I did not mix speaking on Iraq with my support for Kerry. And when I made my decision, the media hadn't glommed on him.) They stayed silent about that ridiculous 2004 DNC convention which was an embarrassment and a shame. Protest pens? People seem to have forgotten that. Medea Benjamin was escorted off the floor (with the original intent being for her to be arrested) for unfurling a banner against the illegal war. On stage democracy wasn't being celebrated (and Bully Boy wasn't being criticized -- couldn't go there!). It was shameful. Obama's speech was an embarrassment. John Kerry "reporting for duty" was ridiculous. Disowning the bravery of speaking out during Vietnam was cowardly.

But it was ABB (Anybody But Bush) and no one better speak out or pressure Kerry to take a real stand. Today, the Dems have two candidates with stands stronger than Kerry's was -- as weak as their stands are, they are both stronger than Kerry was. (Mike Gravel is in the race and for pulling all troops. I'm not doing any links. I'll put in one for Ehren Watada above but that's going to be it. I'm very tired.)

A lesson should have been learned. It wasn't. The lesson instead was, "Hey, look at what we almost did. If we start even earlier this go-round . . ." So we've had to get that crap over and over. Like we're children who aren't smart enough to make up our own minds. (Of course, making up your mind isn't enough. Independent media settled on one candidate long ago. I'm biting my tongue there due to an article at Third. If we don't have time for it again this Sunday, it will be "And the war drags on . . ." Sunday night.)

They've offered nothing. Take Amy Goodman's ridiculous roundtable on the Democratic primaries that took place on Super Duper Tuesday. Wednesday, what didn't get explored? It's not just that she won't book Hillary supporters. What group turned out more than any other? Women. And what group did she refuse to address? Women. She did the same thing, if you missed it, after the 2006 mid-term elections when it was time to 'analyze' those results. How do you do that? When the biggest group of voters were women, how do you 'analyze' the results without anyone on to discuss the gender vote? She must have thought she did a bang up job because she ignored women again this week.

So let's not pretend or kid that they've offered anything of value. They haven't. They've offered lies and half-truths. They've mixed in a little Britty Spears to show how 'cool' they are and maybe to chase down that 'youth' vote as well.

And throughout they have ignored the illegal war. Iraqis can't ignore it. They can't escape it. US service members serving there (or at home knowing they will be called up) can't escape it. But independent media always has something else to do.

As they've ignored it, some polls have Iraq dropping to number two (on the Dem side and on the GOP side). And don't think it's not related. And don't think Amy Goodman's self-serving statements to The Progressive mean a damn thing when she doesn't practice what she preaches.

We have the power to end the illegal war. We also have the power to end 'independent' media that doesn't cover what matters. The campaigns are proving to be yet another distraction from the illegal war. And they'll all play like they have no long term memory as they tell you if the Dems get __% in the House and the Senate, the war will end. Remember when they shoveled that lie for the 2006 elections? Remember when they protected and covered for Congress. Over and over.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3943. Tonight? 3952. Stop a minute and grasp that. Nine deaths have been announced since last week. Where is the coverage? We're less than 50 away from the 4,000 mark and where is the coverage? Did anything you read or listened to in 'independent' media since last Thursday do anything to inform you that in seven days, there have been nine announced deaths? What will most likely be similar to the November 2004 slaughter of Falluja is about to take place in Mosul and where's 'independent' media?

Every few months ___ writes the public account and feels the need to type, "I'd like you better if you were nicer." I'm not trying to be liked. This isn't a popularity contest. This is about an illegal war. And when we don't have the coverage of it, we all suffer. When we don't have coverage of war resisters, we all suffer including war resisters and their families. But always Iraqis suffer as an illegal war continues in their country. Five years later in March. An illegal war the US started. An illegal war the US government continues. Apparently covering it is too much for 'independent' media. I'm not upset that __ doesn't like me better. I could care less if he liked at me all. We're not trying for new community members and I'm not trying to set myself up with a post-TCI position. Anything good we've done here is the result of members not of me. Anything bad we've done is all me. But day after day we've shown that Iraq can be covered. And we didn't need to beg for money to do that. The easiset thing in the world is to play the 'criticize big media' game. It's easy. It's overdone. A lot of people have made 'names' for themselves doing that. But where's independent media on the illegal war?

If you're ready for five more years of this illegal war, then don't hold independent media accountable. Don't hold them to their own standards. That's what's happened here (or with Ava and in the TV pieces for Third). We haven't invented a standard. We've taken the standard Little Media applies to the Big Media and seen how Little Media was measuring up. The results haven't been pretty. And as long as they aren't called out on it, watch it get even worse.

Democracy Now! in the summer of 2006 ignored Camp Casey while Amy Goodman was giving interviews citing her work covering Camp Casey in the summer of 2005 as an example of the power of independent media. Camp Casey finally popped up when Mark Wilkerson's taped announcement from it was played. Wilkerson may have been the last new war resister they bothered with. They didn't cover Ivan Brobeck returning to the US to turn himself in (on election day in November 2006) with an open letter to the Bully Boy. And then came 2007 when no new war resister could get on the program. It's 2008. If you're willing to accept that, have at it but grasp that you are joining independent media in prolonging the illegal war. The standards independent media has created to critique Big Media with are not unreasonable. And the same standard can be applied to Little Media and should be.

Just Foreign Policy's total stands at 1,173,743. It was previously (for last Thursday, the one before and the one before that and maybe the one before that as well) 1,168,058.

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